Informing Spectroscopists for Over 40 Years

Quality Matters Columns

Peter J. Jenks

the Jenks Partnership, Newhaven House, Junction Road, Alderbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 3AZ, UK. E-mail: [email protected]

Spectroscopy and spectrometry have been around for a long time. In the “modern” era, spectroscopic instruments have been with us in one form or another for over 70 years. This is particularly true for those old “workhorse” techniques, UV-visible and infrared. So by now it might be reasonable to think that we would enjoy a standardisation and calibration environment that would make the assurance of our spectral data quality a matter of routine. Perhaps or perhaps not! Nothing stands still in the application of analytical science to assuring quality. As the column title rightly suggests Quality does Matter.

The rate of change of instrumentation and its application base accelerated during the 1980s with the availability of substantial data processing power and new technologies being incorporated into the humble spectrometer. Suddenly some of the reference materials we relied upon for qualifying and calibrating our spectrometers were no longer “fit for purpose”. Not only were end users in the laboratory faced with these issues but also the instrument manufacturers. At the same time as these technological changes were occurring so too were regulators. Regulatory bodies in a variety of fields, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, environmental, food to name but a few were becoming increasingly interested in the quality of the data coming from our laboratories to ensure compliance with national and international standards.

When discussing the need and role of standards, we need to consider the major changes that have taken place over the last 50 years in four key areas: The National Metrology Institutes (NMIs), the instrument manufacturers, the user base and the globalisation of regulation through international regulatory bodies.

Spectroscopy and spectrometry have been around for a long time. In the “modern” era, spectroscopic instruments have been with us in one form or another for over 70 years. This is particularly true for those old “workhorse” techniques, UV-visible and infrared. So by now it might be reasonable to think that we would enjoy a standardisation and calibration environment that would make the assurance of our spectral data quality a matter of routine. Perhaps or perhaps not! Nothing stands still in the application of analytical science to assuring quality. As the column title rightly suggests Quality does Matter.

The rate of change of instrumentation and its application base accelerated during the 1980s with the availability of substantial data processing power and new technologies being incorporated into the humble spectrometer. Suddenly some of the reference materials we relied upon for qualifying and calibrating our spectrometers were no longer “fit for purpose”. Not only were end users in the laboratory faced with these issues but also the instrument manufacturers. At the same time as these technological changes were occurring so too were regulators. Regulatory bodies in a variety of fields, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, environmental, food to name but a few were becoming increasingly interested in the quality of the data coming from our laboratories to ensure compliance with national and international standards.

When discussing the need and role of standards, we need to consider the major changes that have taken place over the last 50 years in four key areas: The National Metrology Institutes (NMIs), the instrument manufacturers, the user base and the globalisation of regulation through international regulatory bodies.

Peter J. Jenks

the Jenks Partnership, Newhaven House, Junction Road, Alderbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 3AZ, UK

John Hammond

Starna Scientific Ltd, 52–54 Fowler Road, Hainault, Essex IG6 3UT, UK

Peter J. Jenks

the Jenks Partnership, Newhaven House, Junction Road, Alderbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 3AZ, UK

In the final RM Column, I concluded with the words “To cover this enhanced scope the editorial team will expand: there will be a couple of new names joining me in the preparation of the new column”. In this, the very first Spectroscopy Europe Quality Matters Column, I’m delighted to be able to announce our new columnists as Christopher Burgess and John Hammond.

Peter J. Jenks

the Jenks Partnership, Newhaven House, Junction Road, Alderbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 3AZ, UK

This is the 34th RM Column and over the last seven years we have looked at reference materials (RMs) from just about every possible angle and re-visited some topics more than once. Whilst we have focussed mainly on RMs, over time there has been a change in the way RMs are used and their importance to analytical laboratories.

This may be the first time that Spectroscopy Europe has reported on political upheavals in the UK, but fall out from the departure of Mr Blair and the arrival of Mr Brown has led to reorganisations in Government departments, particularly those that look after research and innovation, including reference materials (RMs)!

Peter J. Jenks

the Jenks Partnership, Newhaven House, Junction Road, Alderbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 3AZ, UK.

Richard P. Meeres

Guest Columnist

Pages